Before Mel’s post (don’t stop reading)… a reminder. Sign up for the Storytellers Conference before it’s too late. Registration closes on Thursday..
It’s free! (But for every day that you wait, you miss the free sessions that day.) Just click on the graphic below to head to the registration page.
Amy’s post about PRAYortizing for the new year is a great precursor to this post, so make sure you read it! Once you’ve prayed about your priorities and have decided that writing and/or speaking is at the top of your list, how do you honor this priority?
The answer: boundaries.
One of the most life-changing books I’ve read is Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. This book showed me I had been living boundary-less or had adopted others’ ill-fitting boundaries.
Simply put, a boundary is a demarcation of what is me and what is not me. To compare boundaries to the physical world, imagine your yard with a fence with a gate. That fence indicates your boundaries and the gate indicates your choices.
We are each given certain gifts unique to us. These are the things within my yard. I’m responsible for the stewardship of what’s in my yard, my resources, and I want to steward them well. I know you do too. Let’s look at some useful guidelines for practicing healthy boundaries so we can live out our priorities.
God has gifted me with talents, gifts, financial resources, personality slant, and circumstances, and it’s my responsibility to honor God with these. Remember why means remember that I have a responsibility for these things, but not a responsibility for everything.
In the past I said yes to some things I probably shouldn’t have agreed to because they took time away from my priorities. Many times I’ve said yes because I didn’t want to disappoint, hurt, or be misunderstood. Saying no is often still hard for me. BUT I do it because I am steadfastly committed to living my priorities. If I know that I’ve prayed for God to direct me and to show me how to best steward my gifts, then it is easier for me to say no to activities that fall outside this.
A boundary that was appropriate in the past may no longer fit. Seasons change; circumstances may require new boundaries.
Priorities help here. If I’m going to honor my priority of writing, I have to make time for it. I can’t keep adding more and more to my to-do list. I’m probably going to have to take something off, realize it’s a season of change, or at least not add anything new to honor the priority of writing.
In one season of my life I was writing and speaking for ministry; my husband was a pilot who was often out of town; we started and owned a very stressful business; my kids were involved in all sorts of activities; my parents needed help after a health crisis so I traveled from NC to FL at least every other month. I was coming undone keeping all my commitments. I began to sort out what I needed to say no to in this season, and I made some changes in commitments.
If someone asks me to do something, I gather more information by asking, Tell me what that will look like. Or tell me more about what you need. Then I may be able to make a decision immediately, or I may need some more time to pray, think, and talk to my family.
I have to be careful not to use this tactic to procrastinate or avoid saying no simply because saying no is hard for me. I do this to really consider the ramifications of saying yes.
I once said yes to a commitment that I thought would last a few months but turned into a year of commitment. Ugh. It so happened the commitment was first thing in the morning a couple times of week, and that was when I knew my writing energy was at its best. I gave away that writing time, my priority, because I didn’t weigh the consequences of my yes.
My husband has boundless energy and stamina and skills. Really. That’s the way he’s wired. I, on the other hand, have limited energy, I need white space, and I can only juggle a few balls well. Knowing how I’m wired helps me have boundaries to honor my priorities.
That doesn’t mean my responsibilities have to fit into life easily and comfortably. Walking in faith is often a walk of uncertainty and discomfort. But this is coupled with prayer and self-awareness. I know that if I’m in a season of writing that I need time to think, pray, and let ideas percolate. This means I need to schedule this white space into my life.
These are a few pointers to help create healthy boundaries. I’d love to know more about how you honor your priorities by honoring your boundaries.
One more thing. Many years ago this verse became a guiding truth in my life, and I think it fits so well with the topic of boundaries:
1 Thessalonians 5:21:
“…examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.”